The Age of Human Engagement Optimization
If you want to know what the ROI of #socialmedia is, you first have to understand the ROI of a Piano. If you don't know how to play the piano, that answer is zero. But if you're Elton John or Billy Joel, then that answer is substantial. The problem with social media (and especially those new to #GooglePlus) is that they are concentrating on customer acquisition but not level of engagement.
Essentially you're all acting like 19 year old dudes trying to close on the first move, which rarely works. This is why you see a lot of first generation social marketers coming into things like Google+ and failing miserably.
We're entering into an age where relevancy, context, and level of engagement all matter. If Content is King, then Engagement is the Queen. No longer do we live in an age where you can just produce a lot of content (or hire some firm to write it out for you) and expect high engagement levels or ROI. In this context, you have to change your strategy to address authenticity and engagement.
“If you don’t give a shit about people, you’re done” – Gary Vaynerchuk
You're looking for long term and not short term in this generation of social media. While the interactions tend to be shorter, the long-term engagement is getting longer. And then there are social engagements like Google+ that transcend just the conversation at hand and have a relevancy in everything a person does in countless contexts because it's being mapped to an identity.
Raw numbers are meaningless today. It's not the number of followers that you have which counts but how you engage with them and how many engage with you and your brand.
This is something I pointed out in 2010 when all of the social media marketers were still doing SEO (people still do that today?) instead of HEO.
SEO is essentially figuring out ways to game a search engine in order to boost popularity or visibility and hope the people you’ve duped into clicking through to your content will stick around and share it. Instead of appealing to people, you spent all of your effort trying to appeal to algorithms and computer search engines. And now with things like Google+ and how it ties into their search engine and other products, your SEO tactics will ultimately fail.
HEO is my term (I'm coining it now) for Human Engagement Optimization, and it refers to a total LOE (Level of Engagement) Metric. Because one lifelong customer acquisition is worth more than ten thousand "followers" who are as engaged as a pack of mindless zombies.
Let me put this into perspective:
One HEO result has ten thousand times the impact as your best SEO. It is a measurement and understanding of social media which says Quality over Quantity. In a world of unending bullshit flooding social media networks, you need to hit the home run the first time. You need to be genuine and engaging.
People remember you when you're catering to HEO, because they can put a face or personality to the brand, they can make the connection that lasts in their mind. And when they do that, they are more likely to recommend you to others in their social circles, who will (if you continue HEO) recommend to their friends. It's word of mouth on steroids.
“You cannot underestimate the sharpness of people’s BS radar – they can spot a soulless, bureaucratic tactic a million miles away.” – Gary Vaynerchuk
You don't need to be the loudest voice, and you don't need to reach the most people by your own effort through brute force. With HEO marketing, you just need to be compelling, genuine, and engaging. Your audience will build itself and amplify your voice.
And that is where most marketing places these days are failing miserably. They come over to Google+ or some other social media service fresh and then just start spamming the hell out of it with their content, and no engagement. Closing the deal on the first post... or trying desperately.
Take +Applebees Tomsriver - which doesn't seem to know they even exist on Google+ (zero engagement and zero HEO), the main Applebees on social media itself and +Sears - go ahead and take a look at their pages and you'll see that their engagement levels are miserable and in most cases non-existent.
Perfect example of being a 19 year old dude trying to close on the first move. Then they wonder why Google+ or other social media isn't working for them, and so you see countless articles (usually from the HEO losers) whining and bashing Google+ for being a "ghost town" or just not worth it.
Well of course not! You suck at HEO, and SEO tricks don't work in an HEO social world. Real people see through your bullshit in a hurry and will call you on it in an instant. SEO is catering to automated algorithms and the last time I checked, this place is full of real human beings having conversations, talking about topics and sharing things with their friends and acquaintances that they find interesting.
So the simple fact of the matter is that since you aren't treating them like you care or find them interesting... they are treating you the same way, and so find yourself shouting into the Grand Canyon with only an echo and a tumbleweed to keep you company.
+Gary Vaynerchuk gets it right, and if there was anything you should listen to today, make it this guy.